CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB FANS FORUM
2023-24, 2nd MEETING MINUTES
Meeting held in the Vialli suite at 6.30pm on Monday 11th December 2023
Attendees Club title/ group represented
Beckwith, Gary Fan Advisory Board liaison
Beerman, Clayton Home season ticket (“ST”)
Broadbent, Dean Hospitality
Clark, Dawn Access
Daine, Nav Regional Manager for Retail Operations at Levy
Davis, Marriane Chelsea Women Supporters Group
Elmes, George UK supporters club
Finkelstein, Daniel Club Director
Forrest, Scott 16-21s
Gaj, Mohammed Ethnically and culturally diverse
Goodbrand, Christine Female
Gray, Jamie Club Head of Facilities
Kasic, Allison Overseas supporters club
Kirke, Xander Chelsea Pride
Middleton, Pamela UK away scheme
Mills, Charlie 65 and over
Regan, Andy Forum Chairman
Roddy, Tom Club Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Rosso, Dominic Chelsea Supporters Trust (“CST”)
Smith, Cat Club Head of Supporter Relations
Smith, Graham Club Head of Ticketing
Trenter, Peter Chelsea Supporters Group (“CSG”)
Warner, Mark UEFA away scheme
Wittich, Margaret Chelsea Supporters Club (“CSC”)
Woodcock, Steve Member
Apologies for absence
Brown, Peter LGBTQI+
(Action points are underlined.)
The Chairman welcomed representatives to the second meeting of the season.
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING
There were no changes to the minutes. Matters arising from the last full meeting were as follows:
Removal of comments under specific social media posts
The Club reviews this on a case-by-case basis but at the moment has no plans to remove comments under specific social media posts. This reflects what our competitors do. We work with a social media agency to reduce hateful comments on both Club and player posts. We will continue to work closely with them and other partners such as the police to investigate any messages of hate / discrimination.
Broken lift in the Matthew Harding/ announcements of floors
The Club deploys a staff member on every lift. We have also rolled out lift passes. Only those supporters with this season lift pass ‘RED’ can access the lifts. Unfortunately, our stewards get overpowered by supporters that ignore their requests and are also foul and abusive to our staff. The result is that the lifts are overloaded, lifts get stuck and supporters trapped. In response to a suggestion for a “maximum number” sign the Club said its preference is for stewarding there and for supporters to respect the stewards who give the advice.
Font on the big screens and inaccurate time announcements
The Club has passed feedback onto the design team and hopefully the time issue has not happened at a recent game. A representative said it’s still difficult to read the font from the other end. The Club will speak to the relevant department
Rails in the Matthew Harding Upper
It was confirmed all rails are as expected and are checked during the season. In response to a question about the stair rails, the Club added there are none at the back of the Matthew Harding.
CST ticket survey
This was shared as requested and the CST circulated a further document at this meeting.
Gary Beckwith’s contact details
These have been shared with the Forum.
Fans applying to move at the end of the season due to the dugout area switch
The Club said fans can apply to move anyway.
Security will be reviewed to ensure home and away fans are kept apart in the stadium
The Club said this is something we reviewed for European fixtures. However, for Premier League games this is not just one-sided. Chelsea supporters on both segregation lines were taunting away supporters with one home fan indecently exposing himself to the travelling fans for which he was subsequently arrested and given a ‘community resolution’ by the Police. We continually monitor this and take appropriate action for all supporters who breach Ground Regulations.
ESG presentation slides and Chris’ contact details circulated
This has happened.
These can be discussed when raised.
CSC to offer proposals to publicise/ enhance the Academy
The Club is waiting for an update from CSC.
Fan memorial day
The Club has confirmed this is being considered for the 24-25 season.
Alleged glitches in the despatch of Brighton cup tickets
The Club has had no issues with the ticket delivery and didn’t receive lots of emails requesting them to be reforwarded. We also had no queue on matchday apart from Brighton fans so not sure what the issue was.
Ticket numbers to identify the nearest entrance / steward assistance further to feedback from the Brighton cup game
With regards to the vomitories they are numbered by block but blocks, as with most stadia, are split over two stairwells. However, the seat numbers are listed on the concourse for each section. We will remind stewards to assist supporters with this.
Proposals for parades/ open days etc should the women’s team continue to be successful
This has been shared with our women’s commercial and marketing team. They are preparing plans for Emma’s departure and this will be shared with the Forum for feedback.
The Chairman passed on the Club’s request for representatives to highlight specific policy changes.
Ticket exchange points/ sale to outside companies
It was raised that someone buying tickets should receive points like any other fans purchasing a ticket. If there are empty seats regularly at a match, stewards could note this and the Club can write to suggest that fan uses the exchange. The Club said we average 1,400 ticket exchange sales per game. We are a few thousand empty per match probably. The Club does publicise the exchange and only 40 have not been purchased in the entire season to date so that doesn’t appear to be an issue. There is only one set of points allocated per ticket.
We are considering the system at Old Trafford where an ST holder loses their ticket if they don’t attend regularly. In response to a question, the Club said some seat holders may be selling their ticket to a third-party company. The only way to get tickets in that way is via membership. We could ask for photo ID on entry based on our Conditions of Issue. We get attempted BOT attacks at times and are constantly updating our online systems. Tout demand is huge though.
The Club checks some Facebook groups advertising tickets. We will shut them down if they are a problem. Some fan groups may be trying to genuinely assist fans within the rules. If you sell your ticket you are responsible for the attendee’s behaviour.
Demand keeps increasing and capacity is going down – now 40,022 at the Bridge. For the VWR, the Club sees the number of hits and demand is huge for away tickets as well, hence no increase to the away scheme limit.
Ticketing platform/ choice of seats
It was raised that logging in is a problem and another representative asked if issues with VWR are being tackled. The Club was also asked if a “sold out” sign could be prominent when tickets are gone. It responded that updates are provided during the sales process and then numbers in the queue can be seen to drop off. The VWR is still random and we consider it the fairest process. Another club provides a number to each fan once in the queue and that system has crashed on occasion. Also if you are number 500 and 499 ahead of you buy all the tickets, you will feel let down.
It was raised that better communication over ticketing would still be welcome. CST requests more myth-busting sessions which would alleviate some concerns. The Club said there are plans for this and the FAB are looking at the issue.
As regards choosing your seat, that is coming in but will slow the process.
The Club said the initial platform for purchasing hasn’t changed. For instance there are Fulham tickets still on sale but they may be more expensive ones left. With increased hospitality, there are fewer lower priced seats inevitably. Plus the lower capacity doesn’t help. It ST numbers stay proportionately high, members will have fewer tickets to try to purchase . At present they already have about 2,000 fewer tickets per home game than in recent years. We don’t increase the number of GA STs per season but the vast majority renew. We allow name changes so we can know who is meant to be attending. We can sell out members tickets in minutes. CSG said availability is a very substantial issue for its members.
Women’s team matches at Stamford Bridge
The Club responded to a question that there is no specific entry card provided for the multi-game package by stating that the package may not be offered next season anyway. A representative added there is no subject heading for each email stating which match the ticket relates to.
For the Liverpool match we had 12,802 attending from about 15,000 purchasing. It was raised that our numbers are substantially lower than at Arsenal for instance and that pricing must remain reasonable. The low attendance for Liverpool is a consequence and the Club should listen to fans given the threat of increased men’s ticket prices. It was suggested that men’s ST holders at Arsenal have the option of paying very little extra to watch their women’s team and that other packages are available there.
The Kingsmeadow policy can be looked at next time.
Transition ticket timing
It was raised that there is only 24 hours to confirm your seat then two days to choose another seat when forced to move for a cup game. The Club was asked about teams who don’t take their whole allocation and confirmed you don’t get the chance to move from the Shed if your seat is not taken by away fans.
Another commented there is a lack of choice of where to move to, with the Club responding that a lot of the other blocks are largely taken by other ST holders so often the wings will only be available away from the Shed End. It added there are lots of single seats and pairs available to move to for a match. The moving time is overnight as well to allow more time.
Tickets on non-Chelsea websites
It was raised that touting is still rife. The Club responded it takes this very seriously. A family of Manchester United fans spent £2,000 on tickets they couldn’t use. Tout sites are often abroad and can’t be touched by our jurisdiction. Some sites don’t care whether they are selling genuine tickets or not. The new leadership team is looking at this and we will look to educate our worldwide fans about these risks. A lot of work already goes into this. One “action plan” published by a touting company advised how to get in with touted tickets.
The Club added that touting is an incentive to make tickets non-transferable. Photo ID could be used.
Concessionary access/ extension to all stands
A representative asked if concessionary access could be spread to other stands and not just the East Lower.
As regards claiming concession tickets, the Club explained this is for those who share tickets so only the concession fan gets the discount. This could go in the policy.
Access to points information
It was raised that loyalty points can’t be checked when queuing for tickets. The Club can look at that.
Domestic semi-final/ final tickets
A representative questioned why away ST holders get priority for Wembley matches. The Club responded it categorises Wembley as an away match for this purpose.
Away ticket split/ transparency
The Club was asked if it could be more transparent about this. It responded that it is transparent with 20% on the away scheme, then ST holder and members, supporter clubs and tickets for player families. Any suggestion about the ST/ member split made here is advisory only. We looked at the stats for the Luton split given the lower allocation for that match, for instance. Last year’s suggestion of a 70 /30 ST/ member split was relatively close in the Forum vote.
Away ticket checks
The Club said the Premier League requires the home club to provide the away club with details of which of its tickets were scanned on entry. Some clubs use CCTV to try and monitor individual ticket use. It was raised by some representatives that due to work or other changes in commitments the purchaser may not be able to use that ticket. The Club is very aware of the different aspects of this issue. A fan said the flip side is that some away ST holders seldom use their tickets intentionally and just want the points. The Club added it’s difficult for teams who’ve changed divisions to get their heads around the demand for tickets at that level.
The Club commented that it had announced in the summer that freezing prices is unlikely to be repeated this year for the men’s and women’s teams. The FAB will be consulted initially once the Club has looked at all options and the Fans Forum will also have a chance to look at these too. A range of plans are being considered. No one wants a price increase ideally but we have to invest in the future of the Club.
CST wanted it noted that its survey includes responses on ticket price increases, tiers, concessions and balloting for tickets amongst other issues.
Hospitality in East Stand
The Club said there are no plans to expand hospitality in the East Stand at present.
A fan raised the issue of whether the onsale time could be reconsidered to an earlier start. An early start is fairer to all fans, as used to be the case. The Club said it receives few complaints about the current timing and most other venues are around 10am so we are in line with that.
A representative commented the Club only announces match ticket categories when we go on sale. For instance Preston is category D rather than E. The Club said the Preston match category is in line with previous FA Cup matches.
All ticketing proposals will be considered by the Club when formulating the policy for next season
Kingsmeadow stadium update/ women’s venue
The Club said there are no plans at present. We have a new Chief Operations Officer and will be looking at that stadium in due course. We are trying to predict the right size of stadia for the women’s game going forwards which is difficult to gauge. There are no general plans for upgrades.
It was raised that the East Stand here isn’t ideal for matches as there are proportionately fewer women’s toilets. The Club said it switches some toilets by gender for women’s matches here. There are still tickets available for this week’s match. Kingsmeadow doesn’t meet UEFA requirements for European matches. It could cost more than £1 million to adapt that stadium and the capacity is down to c4,300. There are no plans for undersoil heating there at present – we have only had to postpone one match there in the last few years. The infrastructure in the area is also a factor, for instance a new school is planned next to the stadium. We promised hot dogs to fans but that proved difficult to implement! A lot has been invested there already.
A representative suggested we almost need an in-between stadium size for the women’s team now.
Away scheme refund/ Wolves away
The Club said it will not be refunding those on the away scheme for non-attendance. A representative said the Club has refunded home fans who can’t attend a match, with sufficient notice. The decision for the Christmas Eve match is poor timing. The Club said it expressed its views on the kick-off day and time but are left with this date.
There was a concern by representatives that TV will insist on more unreasonable match times going forwards. The Club said our away allocation sold out anyway. We have put on coaches which has helped.
Away fans in home end
It was raised there were a number of Milan fans in home areas last year and generally a lot of tickets end up with companies. The Club said security teams are very proactive and we welcome reports of where away fans are sat within home areas.
It was also raised that away fans should be moved. The Club said the only option would be the West Stand due to disability positions and ingress/ egress issues. We would have to give the West Lower in its entirety to away fans for cup games. The East has hospitality in the middle so a split between upper and lower tiers doesn’t work there. Getting away fans in and out quickly is vital. One option would be away fans on the other side of the Shed End but we have all our systems set up for the current configuration. It would also be a problem for accessing the ticket office and Megastore. The plans from six years ago envisaged an away entrance through the Bovril Gate.
A representative said smoking and vaping is still prevalent in the stadium bowl and stewards don’t appear to be bothered. The Club said this can be reviewed.
The Club is looking at holding more of these for the men’s and women’s teams. The Club was congratulated on having academy players parade their trophies at the Bridge.
It was raised by some supporter groups for these to be reinstated. This is particularly requested for games where travel on public services after the match is very difficult or impossible. The Club said we were averaging two coaches per match last season and were down to one this season.
European away matches
The Club is not aware of imminent proposals to ban away fans for environmental reasons.
Academy game information
The Club was asked about the ongoing lack of publicity and information about forthcoming games and will review. The Club appears not to provide reporters for all matches now. Broadcasting matches is appreciated.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Women’s team forum
The Club announced that the intention is to set this up and include all stakeholders being represented. More details will be provided soon. This body will have an input into women’s match prices for next season.
Mental health awareness campaign
The Club was asked why the Tea Bar can’t be used as the initiative is popular but there is little long term planning by the look of it. It responded the area is used by hospitality but at times the Tea Bar can be used. Heritage item displays and meeting FAB members will happen there for the Sheffield United game. Over the Line will have a permanent home on the ground floor in the Copthorne Hotel as we couldn’t guarantee the Tea Bar every match; also it is away from alcohol and has private areas.
The Club was congratulated for Over the Line. Awareness should continue to grow for the facility. It was suggested it should be better publicised. The Club said the Premier League likes the initiative and has committed £10,000. It also fits into the Foundation’s work on physical and mental health.
It was suggested that more publicity in toilets and around the ground would help. The Club will review this.
The Club said the mayor’s safety for women programme is being rolled out, including “Asking for Angela”. Helping women feel safe going home from the stadium is being addressed too. Representatives said some other clubs already address this with the possibility of women choosing to sit together at matches. The Club said we have a Jewish fans group and want to have a Muslem fans group and possibly a women’s fans group at some point.
Fan Advisory Board
Gary said he is the representative from the Forum and welcomes feedback and comments from Forum members. There are now 7 representatives and some of will be available at the Tea Bar on Saturday to meet fans. The first 3 representatives in place attend board meetings. Feedback nearer the time on pricing initiatives will be welcome. Neil, Tracy and Gary have two years on the FAB and the others will have three years to ensure continuity.
The Chairman added that the remit of our Forum is being reviewed to ensure that the FAB and Forum focus generally on distinct issues.
The Club confirmed there is a proposal for hospitality to use that area.
The Club said it will publicise more on these figures later in the season but the issue is really how many false email addresses are out there for “rogue” members. The number of members banned, ejections from the stadium, police action taken etc will be looked at. We use CCTV substantially to identify transgressors in the stadium.
The Club is looking at those who abuse this process and takes strong action against those supporters.
The Club said it will ensure full information is rolled out and more testing will be needed first. Some fans have assisted with testing the login process. We are planning cards for next season again.
The CST said only 26% of members responded to their survey stating that they receive good value for this. There could be a “members’ home match” with no loyalty points available for purchasers. The Club said it’s looking at a range of benefits for members. We are aware that added value benefits members. Now that the ticket exchange sells out, ST holders can’t buy another match ticket until the day before a game.
Mohammed Gaj and Tom Roddy were welcomed to their first meeting
The meeting finished at 8.15pm.